15 October 2010
Savings of up to 10.7% and, on average, up to 5.9% in the residential building's heating energy consumption. - These outstanding results were obtained by Kimmo Hilliaho in his research on the balcony glazing's energy-economic effects completed in August at the Tampere University of Technology.
The research was conducted in Finland and supplemented with reference calculations obtained from Germany. The heating energy consumption of glazed and unglazed balconies was compared with each other by using field measurements and computer simulations. In addition, it was ascertained how the balcony type, thermal insulation and the direction affect temperatures inside glazed balconies.
New, efficient windbox
The results show that taking compensation air from a glazed balcony clearly increases energy savings arisen from glazing. In the best case, the balcony functions as an efficient windbox, which makes it possible for the balcony-owner to reduce the temperature by one degree in the room behind the balcony. Thus the residents can save energy and improve their housing comfort.
If installed for recessed balconies, the glazing is often a more efficient energy-saver that the glazing installed for protruding balconies. The savings for south-side balconies are slightly higher than those for balconies facing towards other directions. However, the savings gained by both types are substantial. The study of glazing tightness revealed that larger gaps between balcony glass sheets didn't much affect energy saving levels.
Crucial is how the residents use their balcony glasses. In most cases, the Finns know the energy-economically best way of using balcony glazing: glasses are kept closed in winter and open in summer. However, the provision of more accurate directions is necessary to maximise savings.
Even higher savings obtained in Germany
The research was supplemented with energy calculations implemented in such element houses in Berlin that were comparable with the Finnish houses under research.
Heating energy savings gained with the use of balcony glazing varied in Berlin from 5.6% to 12.0%. The glazing was most beneficial to buildings with balconies facing towards south and compensation air taken through the balcony. Taking supply air from the balcony instead of taking it directly from outside was the factor that had the most distinct impact on energy savings. On average, heating energy savings in Germany amounted to 8.2%, which is even more than in Finland.
A solution that pays off
Keeping the building base in good condition and its management costs on a reasonable level have a direct impact on housing costs - and satisfaction of the residents. In addition to housing comfort, the top-quality and properly used balcony glazing provides the residents and owners with pure financial benefits.
The conclusion drawn on the basis of the research results published in Tampere was clear: it is advisable to provide especially the multi-storey buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s with balcony glazing. Substantial savings could also be obtained in new multi-storey buildings with a compensation air intake through the glazed balcony.
In addition to energy savings, the balcony glazing could bring about other significant economic benefits. According to the research made by D.Sc. (Tech.) Jussi Mattila, providing balconies with glazing has an impact on the general condition of the house: it may even postpone the renovation need of balconies in the building from six to ten years!
For more information:
tel. +358 20 7403 505
mira.laurila [at] lumon.fi
Master of Science in Technology
kimmo.hilliaho [at] tut.fi